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Not by the Book: Re-imagining Today’s Middle School Science Program

Session 3
Jenna Chervenic, Kim Nightingale, Pat Killian — Alternative School for Math and Science

The Alternative School for Math & Science is a student-centered, independent middle school in Corning, NY. Since its founding in 2003, inquiry-based, hands-on science, which is central to the FOSS curriculum, has been the basis of our program. Learn how, over the last five years, while honoring our early commitment to inquiry-based approaches, teachers and administrators have worked together to shape the evolution of the program into a more comprehensive, clearly articulated, future-focused experience for our students. See how the incorporation of open-ended exploratory projects, in-depth engineering challenges, and extended participation in high-level national science contests has promoted engagement and fostered student learning. Discover how, by scaffolding scientific competencies and understandings from grade six through eight, students emerge as the questioning, confident, problem-solving scientists we want them to be. This is not a ‘bad to good’ narrative; this is a ‘good to better’ story. Join us to add your ideas and share your experiences so that we can all move to ‘best’.

Conversational Practice

We will share our program design process, including the collaborative engagement between administrators and teachers. We will provide project plans and exemplars from student work. We will demonstrate how we utilize technology and digital science notebooks. We will encourage others to share what is happening in their schools, and we hope that all of this will provide a springboard for productive conversations about how to improve student engagement in and passion for science.

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